YouTube, Video Games, Films, and Beyond! The Completionist Interview @FanimeCon2019
Jirard Khalil is the host of The Completionist, a video game review show on YouTube that’s been active since 2011. The main format of the show has Khalil playing a game to 100% completion while also showing viewers the various challenges he encountered. Each 20-30 minute episode breaks down the process and are filled with Khalil’s unique, often humorous, insights.
CFG had a great time chatting with Jirard about his career, his experience meeting Nintendo legends, his favorite movies, and even his thoughts on other YouTube personalities such as Arin Hanson from The Game Grumps.
Interviewed by William Hong Transcribed by Davies Green
How are you enjoying FanimeCon so far?
So far so good. I’ve been asked to come to Fanime for the past three years but I’ve always had a conflict. So this is my first time. They asked me very beginning of the year if I wanted to come and I said yes. Cool. It’s been very fun so far.
Any differences between FanimeCon and other cons you’ve attended?
This is one of the most well run conventions I’ve been to. Everyone’s very happy and friendly and everyone’s excited to be here. The staff and the support been really awesome. It’s a very well put together show.
So what kind of anime do you like?
It’s actually funny. I’m not the biggest anime connoisseur. I just kind of recently been dipping in the past couple of years. The ones that I’ve been really into and excited about are High Score Girl. I’ve been really liking One Punch Man, even though season two has not been so hot. Then of course just things like Pokemon, Digimon, and stuff from my childhood like Sailor Moon.
So if you were to cosplay at a convention, who would you be and why?
I’d probably cost plays Zack Fair from Final Fantasy VII. I just really liked Zack because he’s like the true origin of Cloud. Everyone who loves Cloud is like, “Oh, Cloud the best.” Zack is essentially Cloud’s truest form and he’s one of my favorite characters. So I’ve always wanted to be a big, buff, burly version of him. I’ll get there one day, but I got to lose another 60 pounds, 70 pounds.
What is your favorite anime game?
Favorite anime game is Dragon Ball FighterZ. Man, as someone who doesn’t know a lot about Dragon Ball, that game is so fun. I love playing the characters, it’s just beautiful to look at it, and fun to play.
Are you a big fighting game fan?
I am a huge fighting game fan. Yeah. I play a lot of Smash Bros for sure. There’s a lot of Street Fighter, a lot of the vs. series. So like Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite and stuff like that.
What is the most challenging anime themed game that you 100% completed?
Tales of Symphonia that’s been the big one. Its that, Catherine, and I’m currently working on a Persona 5.
What would you say is your proudest moment as The Completionist?
From a gaming perspective, being the first person in the world to hundred percent complete Metroid Samus Returns for the 3DS. That was one of the coolest things ever because Metroid games are about speed running and getting the best rankings . I used my prowess and knowledge of Super Metroid as a franchise. I had to basically complete a game that no one’s played before. I’m in the influencer brackets, so I receive game codes early. So to find all the secrets, the routes, and everything was a true honor.
Metroid Samus Returns is a game that requires a lot of interest, a lot of skill, and a lot of understanding of how the games work. Playing the game as many times as I did, getting all the endings, the secrets, playing on the hardest setting, and getting the Metroid Fusion suit. It was just really cool to kind of go through all these different trials and tribulations without any knowledge of whether or not they exist yet. From there, I think the proudest moment in my career was getting to interview Shigeru Miyamoto and Aonuma-san about The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Like literally the Switch had just been announced hours before and I got to sit down to talk to them about Breath of the Wild. The whole theme of the interview was like is Breath of the Wild beatable in a short amount of time. They shared that Breath of the Wild is beatable in about a half an hour to 45 minutes if you speed run. I was the one that broke that news. I asked the right questions and they shared that the minute the game starts and you leap off the plateau, you can go beat the game if you want. It doesn’t mean you can, but you have an ability to do it.
So at the end of this long interview, Anouma-san joked “Oh, this Completionist guy, like he can’t do it.” Miyamoto, who I interviewed before, was like “I don’t think you know him. He actually can complete these games pretty quickly.” At the very end of the interview Nintendo said, “Hey, you should show all of your stats and your end game screen grabs from all your episodes.” So I compiled like 25 images of every Zelda game I completed 100% with the end screens. They showed it to them via a slide show and to see Aonuma his like mouth dropped and go like “This guy actually probably can complete this game.”
To have someone in the gaming industry as prolific as Miyamoto and Aonuma have that genuine moment with me was like incredible. It felt empowering and inspiring to have that conversation with them. To see the way they interacted with me was fascinating because these guys, they speak Japanese but they don’t speak English, but they understand English. I spoke to them in English and they respond in Japanese and to hear them hear my words and understand what was going on right away was one of the most surreal experiences ever. It could’ve been like I talk, then a translator tells them what I said, and then they say that the translator tells me. Instead it was like I talked to them, they listened, understood, and joined in right away. To have that throughout the whole interview was such an honor. It’s a privilege.
What was it like interviewing Reggie?
Reggie Fils-Aimé is the nicest man I’ve ever met. He’s kind and big hearted. He’s just so well spirited. He comes in the room with this incredible presence that silences everyone, and it’s not even like in a demand respect kind of way. It’s like “ Hey, I’m here in the room.” We did this interview with him where he asked me questions about my favorite things about Zelda. It was weird because it wasn’t like we learned anything new from him about Breath of the Wild. It was about what I loved about Zelda with him interviewing me. It was such a fascinating take since we pitched the interview to be all about Breath of the Wild. Reggie came back and was like, what if we just asked Jirard questions about Zelda and I was like, that’s a really cool thing. And we wrote a script. The whole thing was scripted and from from A to Z.
It was me and Reggie’s goal to make it seem like it wasn’t scripted. When you watched the interview, I think we, not only did we achieve it, but you have to look at Reggie as a performer in that interview because he did exactly what we wrote. In the script we wrote that Reggie reaches over and ripped my script in half. He did it and tricked me. Like he said so many things off the cuff that wasn’t in the script and created these genuine moments that happened in the interview that was really just so cool. I wish I could talk to him about the interview. I wish I could talk to him about who he is as a person because he’s such a great person.
E3 is around the corner. What games are you looking forward to?
Really looking forward to Mario Maker 2. I’d love to see what Capcom is doing cause they’ve been having a resurgence with Mega Man 11, Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 7, and Monster Hunter. They’ve really been kind of kicking ass and taking names. So I’m excited to see what they’ve got planned. I’m really excited for Square Enix, too. I think everyone thought this was going to be like an inbetween year and I think it’s going to be a year that ends up shocking people. With Sony not being there and EA pulling out, people are concerned about the state of the industry. But I think really the people who are there making content, making games, I think this is going to be a great year for them. Borderlands 3 is going to be great. Final Fantasy VII remake. I think this is a great year to be playing games. Last of Us 2 is around the corner as well.
Is there a go to game you play for fun or to de-stress?
Mega Man X, Donkey Kong Country 2, Final Fantasy VI, NBA Jam, any Mario game… Mario World, Mario 2, Mario 3, Super Mario 64, stuff like that.
What do you like to do in your free time besides playing video games?
Oh, I have a degree in theater, in film. My true passion has always been movies. My career choice in life was to act or to produce movies. Now I kind of get to do that with video games on Youtube. Now that my career is kind of big I like going to the movies. I’ll watch any movie good, bad, it doesn’t matter. I’ll watch it just to assess and get my own feelings and talk about it. In film school, we were taught to kind of analyze and hate movies and pick the things that are bad because that’s what we’re taught to do. I just reached a point where almost like movies are going to be entertaining. They don’t deserve a rating or a score. We should just watch it for what they are and then make our decisions. So every weekend I go to the movies with my girlfriend and my friends and I watch whatever’s playing.
So what are some of your favorite movies?
Scott Pilgrim vs the World is incredible. The Back to the Future trilogy is awesome. I love The Matrix. I love all those films. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise I think is severely underrated. Everyone just like the first one, that it’s the only good one while the other ones suck. I disagree. I think they’re all great. The fourth one is kind of Iffy, but the rest are really, really good. I really like all of the recent comic book films, Infinity War/End Game were really great just because of the monumental world building in the current generation of film is really fascinating. Tarantino films, Inglorious Bastards and Jackie Brown and Kill Bill. Edgar Wright is my favorite director. That dude could direct anything, I’d watch it in a heartbeat. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, At World’s End. Baby Driver came out two years ago. That was an incredible movie.
If you weren’t doing this then you’d probably be in the film industry in some form, right?
Yes. My goal is to work on movies. YouTube was my last attempt before I went back into the film industry. So it feels good to have succeeded in that regard and to kind of look back at the film industry and acknowledged that that could’ve been my future. I don’t know if I would’ve been happy though, being a PA on a set for several years. I got offered a job to work on Pirates 4 in college and I turned it down. I’m glad that I did because I felt like it was just going to be a drag. I saw the writing on the wall and was like this industry is just going to eat me alive and I’m not going to enjoy it. So I wanted to, before I gave into that industry, at least see what I could do for myself.
If you go back in time and give your younger self advice, what would you tell yourself?
If we’re talking 10 years ago, right when I started The Completionist, I would say be careful of the people you talk to and the relationships you build. I’m the kind of guy that has always led with an open hand and an open heart. I’ve been very open with my friends and I’ve helped give them careers and built a company. I’ve always given. But in the early parts of my career, I met a lot of YouTubers and influencers that were really harmful and hurtful to me personally. And then eventually, professionally, as, as you know, drama started becoming the new thing on youtube. And so it’s been the kind of thing where I, I wish I had been a bit more wise about who I trusted and who I spoke to. I just assumed that if I was open,honest, and kind that everyone would be the same with me. But I learned pretty quickly that not everyone has that same mentality.
It’s a very dog eat dog world early on. It was very, how do you get views? How do you get subs, how do you game the system? I feel like early on I kind of participated in that a little bit, but that changed pretty quickly once I saw what was going on. The people I was involved with I wish that I had been more careful and more reserved with, with who I trusted, who I spoke with.
Who are your favorite YouTubers?
I think some of my favorite YouTubers right now are Scott the Woz, I think he’s incredible. Chadtronic is really, really funny. I really love Peanut Butter Gamer still. He is my friend, but he’s still is always a funny personality to see. I love Brutal Moose. I really, really dig what Philip DeFranco’s been doing with all of his news network stuff, Rogue Rocket. He’s an old school Youtuber that’s still around and still succeeding. A lot of my aspirations and business is modeled after what he’s been doing. One of my biggest inspirations and is my friend Arin Hanson from Game Grumps. I think people give him a lot of crap.
They shit on Game Grumps as a brand and what he does with his Egoraptor animations. But what people don’t really realize is that this guy gives his heart and soul into everything and he believes in people. He’s really a mountain mover. That dude builds businesses, gives people lives, gives them the keys to the kingdom, and supports them. I think on the outside, people see him as like an old animator that doesn’t give a crap about anything. But really, if everyone in the industry was like Arin Hanson, everyone would have jobs and they’d be happy. He just does not get enough credit as a person. I hope people realize what he’s doing and how incredible he is to everyone around them in the community.